A primary care provider (PCP) is a health care practitioner who sees people that have common medical problems. This person is usually a doctor, but may be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. Your PCP is often involved in your care for a long time, so it is important to select someone with whom you will work well.
Seeing a PCP for health care needs instead of using an emergency room greatly reduces medical costs, both for the client and the provider. The client is also able to build a relationship with their PCP, which increases the quality of care based on current health and health history.
It is also important for people to shop around for PCPs. Finding a provider that accepts your insurance plan is paramount. Be sure to interview the provider, and only choose a PCP if you are comfortable with the level of care they can provide. Below is a list of potential PCPs that people might use at any time.
- Family practitioners — doctors who have completed a family practice residency and are board certified, or board eligible, for this specialty. The scope of their practice includes children and adults of all ages and may include obstetrics and minor surgery.
- Pediatricians — doctors who have completed a pediatric residency and are board certified, or board eligible, in this specialty. The scope of their practice includes the care of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents.
- Internists — doctors who have completed a residency in internal medicine and are board certified, or board eligible, in this specialty. The scope of their practice includes the care of adults of all ages for many different medical problems.
- Obstetricians/gynecologists — doctors who have completed a residency and are board certified, or board eligible, in this specialty. They often serve as a PCP for women, particularly those of childbearing age.
- Nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) — practitioners who go through a different training and certification process than doctors. They may be your key contact in some practices.
To read the full article on choosing a PCP, please see the article “Choosing a Primary Care Provider”
Source: The New York Times